Starting a digital marketing agency is one thing. But scaling and growing your agency? That’s a whole other ballgame. Whether you’re at Day 1 or Day 1000 of your business, it’s great to have the tools and knowledge on how to continue to grow your digital marketing agency. That’s where this guide comes in, where we share practical tips on how to get the clients you want and make more money.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
- Types of digital marketing agencies and finding your niche
- Keeping track of industry trends to stay up-to-date
- Using AI to grow your digital marketing agency
- The importance of SEO for growing your business
- Reaching a wider audience through social media
At Slam Media Lab (Slam), we know a thing or two about how to grow a digital marketing agency (it’s kind of our superpower). Want a prime example? Look at our own origin story! We’re a digital marketing and web design agency in San Francisco that started during the pandemic and grew to serve over 30 clients in just three years. Now, we specialize in Webflow design and development, content writing, SEO, and brand strategy, helping our clients slam dunk their digital goals.
We want to give you the tools that we wish we had when we were growing our agency, because we know how daunting the process can feel. And instead of giving you another checklist you could find when looking up “how to grow a digital marketing agency,” we created Slam’s How to Start an Agency Course packed with 20+ templates and blueprints to grow your digital marketing agency into a million-dollar business within a year.
But don’t just take our word for it. We’ve worked with some pretty cool clients to build their digital marketing and brand presence:
Do Your Homework: Learn More About the Digital Marketing Industry
Ever have that feeling where you’ve crunched the numbers, done your research, and scored some clients, but it still feels like you’re missing a crucial piece of the puzzle to exponentially grow? Trust us, we’ve been there, wanting to know if there’s a secret sauce for agency growth that we just weren’t told.
Though there’s no singular recipe for success, step one of growing your agency is continuously learning about the industry you are in, understanding current trends, using innovative tools, and researching new competitors. By approaching your business strategy as one that is flexible to new information and change, you are setting yourself up for long-term success, playing on the field rather than catching up with the people around you.
A quick check-in: If you haven’t created a digital marketing agency yet, but want to, you can look at our How to Start a Digital Marketing Agency 13-step guide to start your journey.
Know What Types of Digital Marketing Are Out There
One way that you could grow your digital marketing agency is through scope. Maybe you are focused on SEO, but not invested in email marketing. Or maybe you have years of social media marketing under your belt, but haven’t touched paid search before. Whatever the case, it’s important to know what types of digital marketing are out there in order to improve your own services and gain new clients.
Here are some different types of digital marketing you can apply to expand your business:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): You would help aid businesses in keyword research, improving keyword rankings and organic search traffic to achieve higher rankings on search engines like Google.
- Social media marketing: Your agency would have social media managers who guide businesses in leveraging social media platforms like TikTok or Instagram to achieve their marketing and business goals.
- Influencer marketing: Building relationships with the people behind the screen, you would specialize in nurturing relationships with influencers, managing their social media platforms so they can promote products or services.
- Web design and development: Your role would be to craft and design websites for your clients, including the finesse of user experience (UX) design and back-end coding, all customized to their preferred website building platform.
- Google Ads: Falling under the pay-per-click (PPC) umbrella, this type of digital marketing involves handling various digital ad formats, including Google search ads and the Google Display Network, to elevate your clients’ online presence.
- Paid search: In the realm of paid search, agencies focus their expertise on overseeing paid advertising campaigns but exclusively on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.
- Content marketing: In the world of content marketing, your goal would be to captivate audiences and generate leads for clients, producing and disseminating a plethora of content types.
- Video production: This type of digital marketing specializes in the cinematic realm, creating and distributing video content as a pivotal component of an all-encompassing marketing strategy on behalf of a brand.
- Email marketing: Your agency can curate and execute email marketing outreach campaigns, with the goal to increase website traffic, generate inbound leads, and boost sales for companies.
Research Your Competitors
Have you ever looked at an agency website and thought, Wow, they’re killing it. How are they so successful? That’s where competitive analysis comes in. Look at agencies who are your current competitors and those you admire, and start to study what they do well. Who is their target audience? How have they defined their niche? What part of the market have they not covered in their services? What are their reviews?
You can use SEO tools (or even a quick Google search) to see how they rank and how much traffic they have for their site. Doing in-depth research on your competitors helps you understand your edge and the possible disadvantages and limitations your agency may have. We also go over all of this and more in our How to Start an Agency Course if you want clear guidelines and tips on how to use competitive analysis to scale your business.
Understand Client Expectations for a Digital Marketing Agency
It may seem simple, but understanding what your potential clients expect from a digital marketing agency can be what takes your business from 1 to 100. Marketing is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. In fact, growing your digital marketing agency requires you to deeply immerse yourself in a client’s individuality, objectives, and unique aspirations.
Each client may have different expectations based on their industry, business stage, and target audience. Therefore, it’s important to center your work around what the client needs and wants for their business, whether it’s during client outreach, initial calls, or iterative research. By tailoring your approach to each client’s unique vision, you are both strengthening your collaboration and positioning your agency for sustained growth and success.
Find Your Niche
While broadening your services and understanding growing client expectations is a step in the right direction, it’s also important to take the time and figure out the ideal client you would like to provide these services for. Discovering your niche is a way to both stand out from the crowd and showcase your expertise on a specific subject that your target audience wants. Here are some tips on finding your niche:
- Identify your target audience: Understand the businesses or individuals you want to serve by considering factors like industry, size, location, and demographics to help tailor your market strategies.
- Define your ideal client: Focus on the client who excites you and benefits the most from your services. We also have a specific model about finding your niche and ideal client in our How to Start an Agency course!
- Specialize in your niche: Stand out in the competitive digital marketing landscape by narrowing your focus. Instead of saying you can do every type of digital marketing, position yourself as an expert in 2-3 types to gain trust and authority.
At Slam, one of our niches is skillfully working with nonprofits like Fresh Approach to create impact-driven designs and content. From hours of market research and defining our target audience, we’ve now been able to share our knowledge of the space via our Nonprofit Marketing Course and Nonprofit Website Template. Like the success it has brought us, Niche-finding can help elevate your agency’s brand identity and strategy, growing customer awareness and ensuring that your clients know what you are good at, and why.
How to Grow Your Agency by Keeping Track of Trends
Clients will want marketing strategies and content that align with current trends, use new tools, and are tailored to evolving demographics. TikTok, for example, is a fairly recent social media platform that has become a major avenue for ads, influencer marketing, and general brand presence. And while you may be an Instagram ads pro, businesses will want you to leverage new platforms and trends to their advantage. Your goal is to keep track of such trends to be ahead of the game. Here are a few ones that are up and coming:
- Artificial Intelligence (we’ll talk more about this later): With tools like ChatGPT and generated AI images, businesses are all wanting to get on the AI wagon. You should be aware of new developments in the rapidly evolving AI space, and see how you can apply it to your client projects.
- Influencer Partnerships: We mentioned this earlier, but the rise of micro and macro influencers has taken the marketing industry by storm. Knowing which influencers are popular and how to secure brand deals is a strength you should gain for your digital marketing agency to grow.
- Personalized Ads: Gone are the days of general newspaper ads. With customer data analytics, you can create targeted marketing campaigns that are specific to your client’s target audience to increase engagement and conversion rates.
- Short Videos: Research has shown that GenZ has a 1-second attention span. It’s crucial to know how to create content that immediately hooks in a potential customer, because while attention spans keep decreasing, you want your and your client’s business to grow.
How to Grow Your Digital Marketing Agency Using AI
Ah-yes, AI, the buzzword of our decade. Whether you are an AI fanatic or have never used ChatGPT before, artificial intelligence is here to stay. Though it can feel daunting to apply AI tools to your work, the industry is incorporating AI more and more into its standards. A report found that 31% of business leaders believe their industry will be transformed by Generative AI in less than one year, and 48% of business leaders said it would in 1-3 years. Only 1% said never.
Strategies to Integrate AI Into Your Digital Marketing Agency
Knowing how to use AI smartly and productively can be what sets you apart from your competitors. Here are a few ways you can integrate AI into your operations and services:
- Data Analysis and Insights: AI is great at deciphering vast datasets, providing insights into consumer behavior, market trends, and performance metrics in minutes. Leveraging AI-driven data analysis can be a game-changer for strategic decision-making.
- Automated Campaign Execution: From ad creation to placement and optimization. AI streamlines these processes, enhancing efficiency and allowing your team to focus on crafting winning strategies rather than drowning in operational tasks.
- Ad Targeting and Retargeting: AI-driven algorithms refine ad targeting by analyzing user behavior, ensuring that marketing efforts are directed towards the most receptive audience. It can also enhance retargeting strategies, increasing conversions through personalized approaches.
- Content Optimization: AI tools analyze content performance and user engagement, providing actionable insights for optimization. As a digital marketer, you can use these tools to support insights you have made for client projects.
- Chatbots for Customer Interaction: By providing instant, intelligent responses to queries, chatbots not only improve customer satisfaction but also free up valuable human resources for more complex tasks.
- Research: AI can quickly synthesize information that might be long, dense, and time-consuming. When you are researching with multiple sources, it can be a great tool to improve your processes.
- Customer Service: Using AI as a customer service tool can cut costs, offer 24/7 support to customers, and help create more personalized experiences by analyzing customer data.
There are a ton of ways AI can help create a more productive and effective agency workplace. We do a walkthrough on each of these applications in our How to Start an Agency Course, showing you how to take this list and turn it into actionable items.
The Importance of Effective AI Prompting
Learning effective prompting is a key way you can utilize AI to your advantage. AI serves you better when you provide it data and details to complete your request. If you want to create a summary of your target audience, for example, you can use prompting by adding data on pain points. preferences, behaviors, and user interviews to get more accurate responses.
As you grow your agency and have more clients on your roster, AI tools can be a way for you to shorten the time you spend on operational and smaller tasks, such as email templates, quick copywriting, and data insights. And while it may seem inconsequential at first, integrating AI into your daily work schedule can significantly boost productivity. By learning how to use AI properly, you are helping your agency grow by making workflows more productive, freeing your teammates’ schedules up, and having more time to meet with potential clients.
Prioritize SEO to Expand Your Agency Fast
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the main ways you can get people to see your site. If you haven’t been tracking traffic on your site, or optimizing your content for keywords, prioritizing SEO can be pivotal to your agency’s growth, as you gear your time to ensuring your target audience is able to easily find your services with a quick Google search,
One of the key reasons why we earned $2M in revenue within two years was because we focused heavily on SEO, growing our agency through search and site traffic.
Now, we are able to help other businesses like Worklife Ventures’ SEO get top rankings. Our exponential growth in organic search did not happen overnight, and SEO is not a one-day type of gig. Your site’s ranking might stay stagnant for weeks until it starts gaining more visitors. You may have months of top rankings, then go back down in traffic. What matters is that your content will gradually gain an audience over time, and help you reach the level of growth and scale you desire. Here’s a breakdown of some elements that can propel your digital marketing agency’s growth through effective SEO strategies.
Mastering Keywords for Targeted Impact
To ace SEO, you gotta start with keywords, terms that match your agency’s services and intent. The goal is to rank for terms that resonate with your app or site's essence, meaning that you would both gain traffic and attract your target audience. Crafting a keyword strategy that focuses on what your ideal user would search for helps the right people come to your site, increasing the likelihood that they will be interested in your work. You can use our SEO Keyword Research Template as a resource to help you get on track.
Crafting Long-Form Content for SEO Success
Your site’s design looks great, and you have previous clients who have left five-star reviews. But why is your website not ranking on Google search? A stellar site with short and poorly written content struggles to rank. One way to grow your digital marketing agency’s online presence is by writing comprehensive, long-form content. The more valuable and in-depth it is, the more SEO will be in your favor.
Building with Backlinks
Google prioritizes sites with strong backlinks (think reputable sites like The New Yorker or The Atlantic) because they see them as legit, reliable sources. By mixing in reputable external backlinks with internal links, your content is much more likely to be visible to your target audience. If you are wanting to scale your digital marketing agency but don’t know how, backlinks can be a small but mighty tool to gain new customers.
To learn more about Search Engine Optimization, you can start by looking at our SEO Terms glossary. Then, you can use resources like the SEO Keyword Research Template and Technical SEO Audit Template to make sure you are on track and organized. (You can even try analyzing this article and guess how it was optimized for SEO!)
Sign up for our course — How to Start an Agency ($979.99)
How to Market Your Digital Agency: Reach a Wider Audience with Social Media
We’ve brought up social media marketing a few times already, but that’s because of how impactful it can be to your agency’s growth. With platforms like Youtube, Instagram, and TikTok, strategies such as sponsored posts, affiliate links, and product placements are standard digital marketing techniques.
As a digital marketing agency, you have probably helped your clients with social media campaigns. Therefore, you’ve also probably seen how important social media can be to a business, with one trending post literally changing the trajectory of a company’s success. This is why you have articles that list products that were sold out because of TikTok trends–social media has the power to make an initially unknown product into an international bestseller.
Sometimes, it’s helpful to take a step back and pretend your agency is your client, and you are tasked to help them with brand recognition and increased site traffic. How would you use social media to achieve these goals? If your audience is GenZ, maybe it’s a TikTok campaign that will do the trick. Or if the target audience are freelancers or job seeks, perhaps doing LinkedIn campaigns will do the trick. Learning how to market your agency via social media means that you are taking all of the observations you made in the earlier stages of market research and SEO building, and applying it to the world of influencers, likes, and shares.
If you are wanting to grow your digital marketing agency with newer social media platforms like TikTok, you can check out our TikTok Script Template or TikTok Content Planner that you can use to streamline the process of content creation.
But remember: you’ve already been on the court and played the game. You can use your experience to your advantage, offering value to people by creating webinars, audits, online communities–the list goes on. By sharing your knowledge, you are not only showcasing your expertise but also gaining a social media presence.
Learn How to Grow Your Digital Marketing Agency from Your Peers
You already put in so much work in starting your digital marketing agency, and the idea of sprinting again to grow your agency might feel overwhelming. The good thing is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Sure, there are definitely ways you can create unique campaigns and form innovative marketing strategies, but a real strength can be learning from the people around you in the industry–even your competitors.
This could take the form of doing market research, competitive analysis, and learning from blogs (like this one!) to gain free knowledge on the mistakes, successes, and growth your peers have had. In the beginnings of Slam, we were hungry to learn, avidly researching other agencies and researching on SEO and Webflow design. And because we know how helpful learning from your peers can be, we created our How to Start an Agency Course, so we can share the knowledge that we gained throughout the years, all in one place.
Want to learn more? Check out our other resources on how to start and grow your dream agency:
- How to Start a Content Marketing Agency
- How to Start a Creative Agency
- How to Start a Facebook Ad Industry
- How to Start a PR Agency
- How to Start a Google Ads Agency
- How to Start an SEO Agency
- How to Start a Social Media Marketing Agency
- How to start an email marketing agency
- How to grow a digital marketing agency